‘Respectful’ Ricciardo answers awkward pay driver question ahead of F1 exit

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    So-called ‘pay drivers’ are a source of frustration for many fans in Formula 1.

    Drivers effectively paying, or having family members do so, to secure their place on the grid at the pinnacle of world motorsport is nothing new, though.

    In recent years there have been a number of examples. Nikita Mazepin, who had a modest record in Formula 2, owed his place to his dad Dmitry – an associate of Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin – and his company's title sponsorship of the Haas team. That arrangement only ended at the start of this year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    READ MORE: Eight worst F1 pay drivers of all-time as Nicholas Latifi is finally dropped by Williams

    Lance Stroll has landed drives at Williams and Racing Point (now Aston Martin) thanks to the investment in those teams by his father Lawrence, who now owns Aston Martin. Fellow Canadian Nicholas Latifi secured his seat with Williams partly due his dad Michael being a key sponsor of the team via his Sofina Foods company. Latifi’s three-year spell with the Grove team ends this year.

    Other drivers have had a far more difficult route to F1, with many having to make personal sacrifices and make what little money them and their family have go a long way.

    One of those was Daniel Ricciardo, who move from Australia to Europe to pursue his dream before being picked up by the Red Bull young driver programme. He was quizzed about pay drivers on the Your Moms House Podcast.

    Can you see Daniel Ricciardo racing in F1 again after this year? Tell us in the comments section below.

    After a long and awkward pause as he figured out how to answer, Ricciardo said: “I’m trying to be respectful. To get into the sport, not even F1, you need to spend thousands to even go karting as a kid, as opposed to hundreds if you’re playing football. A pair of boots and that’s it pretty much.

    “You certainly need some kind of funding, whether it’s from family or sponsors. If the family’s done it all, some people might be like ‘yeah that kid…’ whatever.

    “But once you get to F2, F1, even if someone has paid your way there, you’re still putting your body on the line. At that level, there’s still an element of respect, for sure. Yeah, maybe their path was easier than others but they’re still pretty gnarly.”

    Ricciardo has been left without a race drive for next year after being dropped by McLaren a year before the end of his contract. The 33-year-old is open to a third driver role for 2023 and has held talks with both Mercedes and Red Bull.

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